Rental firm driving luxury message home

NICE WHEELS: Joanna Marquet and Andrew Ballantine run a luxury car rental business.
NICE WHEELS: Joanna Marquet and Andrew Ballantine run a luxury car rental business.

Not many 27-year-old men can boast they have an Aston Martin V8 Vantage Coupe, Porsche Boxster and Jaguar S-Type in the garage.

Andrew Ballantine started luxury rental car business Devine Rentals in late 2010 after several years working as a salesman at consumer electronics and appliances store LV Martin & Son.

"I had a look around and no-one else was doing the same thing in Wellington ... it's quite a common thing in the UK," Ballantine said.

"I had a bit of financial help from my dear parents to start out with in the form of a loan to buy the first three cars.

"It got quite busy six months in and gradually I started buying more cars."

The fleet, which now contains 10 vehicles, began with a Mercedes Benz SL500 convertible and two silver Mercedes sedans so it could target the wedding market as well as those wanting a flash set of wheels for a special weekend away or a summer drive.

Newspaper advertising helped to promote the business as well as vehicles parked around town with advertising banners in the windows.

"It's quite good to be able to just pull up a car at Oriental Bay and put a poster in it that fits in to the windscreen which is relaxed marketing but direct as well. We also hand out flyers," said Ballantine's partner, Joanna Marquet, who also works at the business. She had previously worked at a rental car company, giving her some inside knowledge.

"People automatically think luxury cars are expensive so that can be difficult to overcome. We've really to promote that the average Joe Bloggs could afford to rent it. Offering things like free CBD drop off and airport pick up certainly helps us out compared with the big players."

The Porsche Boxster costs $349 a day while the Audi S6 will set you back $279 a day and the BMW M3 goes for $443 a day.

During the summer months, weddings make up half of Devine Rental's business. It had several regular customers including Wellington-based German and American people who liked to rent the cars for weekends away.

"Because the concept is probably a little bit new to New Zealand it is probably not so popular with people born or brought up here versus people who have moved here from overseas," Marquet said.

"Each car draws a different crowd. We find the BMW Z4 is really popular with the Asian market, they like to use it for their wedding photos which they do on a separate day to the actual wedding whereas our Jaguars are quite popular amongst the Indian foreigners or local Indians."

Expansion into Auckland was on the cards this year, with negotiations under way to see if another party could operate the business there or if the couple would need to relocate.

"There is a lot more competition in Auckland. We have a monopoly here in Wellington really."